Sermon for Maundy Thursday -
Vicar Julie A. Kelly -
Did you notice the Gospel tonight begins and ends with love.
In verse 1, it reads, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Then it bookends with verses 34-35 “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
If only the movies could accurately portray this kind of love... It is a Love that sacrificed heavenly glory to be limited to the suffering and limitations of the human flesh, Jesus Christ, slipping into our skin. It is love that faced ridicule; love that remained patient and true in the face of criticism and crucifixion.
By this love, we have been given gracious and gentle washing of our dusty and dirt worn feet, ample provision of food and wine, and intimate presence that attends to our greatest need. This aching and attentive love puts the best lovers to shame and the great romances wither in comparison.
How can we respond to such tender devotion?
We begin here, in this place, with this family. Just as Christ began with love, we begin with love as worship, offering up our time for express and celebrate our God and God’s great love for us.
We offer up our confession- acknowledging that we have indeed fallen short. We have been Peter denying and Judas betraying. And then, bared and with our very worst side offered up to God, we receive forgiveness- a warm invitation to remain and eat, to share in the common things of bread and wine- things needed for mortal life and nothing but generosity for the immeasurable and immortal one offering them.
Then we offer up our feet, to be washed by another like us, a leader, a servant, a sinner, a saint- just like the person in your mirror. And we receive with humility the intimate gift of our dirtiest parts washed clean and wiped dry, given in pure gift, as Christ gave to the disciples that night so long ago, even to the most undeserving.
Next we offer up peace, greeting one an other, hand in hand and share peace, reconciling with our neighbor; peace and peace returned, a circle of love, forgiveness, a returning moment for the prodigal in all of us.
Finally, we join voices together, blending the tone and timbre to pray, taking our hands that offered and received peace, that connected us to each other and use them to partake of the bread, and with the promise of Christ, a remembrance and declaration of his sacrifice and we receive it with joy-and with solemn, sacred, salient, sorrow and thanks so deep that only resounding and responsive joy echoes back to us and from us.
And then it is done.
Did you notice a theme? Over and over we have offered ourselves, our time, our bodies, our love, our peace copying that which Christ offered up for us. It is Maundy Thursday, the day in which Christ issues the Mandatum Novum, the Holy Mandate. On this day he gave a love offering and he asks us to do the same, to be and give a love offering to one another.
But here is the thing, the disciples were not given these things so that they might remain in close community and keep these things to themselves. They were given them to remind them of Christ’s love for them, and so that they might go out to others, offering the bread of life, the wine of forgiveness, offering another the gift of clean, dry feet, of reconciliation and love.
And so too were you given these things, these words to hear, these gifts to receive so that with our hunger met, our thirst quenched our sins forgiven, community at peace and clean, dry feet so that you might walk out into the world and do what Christ himself did, what he commanded us to do; we go and love one another, to the end.
Julie A. Kelly
Vicar - Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
Santa Monica, California
Sermon for Maundy Thursday
Written by Julie A. Kelly
March 24, 2016
Mt. Olive Lutheran, Santa Monica, California